The Canon R5: According to Adventure Photographer Paul Zizka, a Camera That Has It All

The Canon R5: According to Adventure Photographer Paul Zizka, a Camera That Has It All

Over the last few weeks I’ve talked with several adventure, wildlife, and landscape photographers about the Canon R5. I think that Paul Zizka’s four-word summary has been the most direct expression of satisfaction to date: it has it all.

Quintessential Paul Zizka.

A Bit About Zizka and OFFBEAT

Zizka is a Canon ambassador, specializing in adventure and landscape photographery based out of Banff, Canada. Zizka was recently named a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society. Zizka runs OFFBEAT, a photography community and workshop provider with his friend and colleague, Dave Brosha.

Connecting with the power of nature. Paul Zizka.

Zizka and Brosha’s goal is to facilitate creative connections for those in their community. Coming from the world of corporate law, I understand it when Zizka explains that a lot of his audience and clientele are people who have had to in part suppress their creative side to succeed when life got busy.  

The artistically creative part of their brain wasn’t used for a while because of family or career. We try to help people see that there is creativity in everyone if you take the time to explore that part of your brain.

Don't get me wrong, I'm proud of some of my more creative legal solutions, but that's not the same as trying to reflect your view of the world in a photograph. 

More than sparking creativity, Zizka and OFFBEAT try to also facilitate a return to the wilderness. 

The world would be a better place if people were more connected with their creative side and the wilderness. Once you’re out there and develop the connection to the outside world, you become a much better observer and this leads to a growth in creativity.

Low light in Namibia. Workshops Paul Zizka.

Zizka and OFFBEAT also offer a business of photography course. I asked Zizka to name the one thing he’d want people to take away from his course. He mentioned that people are bent on gathering a large audience. According to Zizka that can be discouraging for newer photographers, especially in light of the algorithms running under social media today. Instead, Zizka suggests that what you need is a dedicated audience. People who admire your work and are willing to part with their hard-earned money to invest in what you're producing. 

Stay true to what makes your photography your own. Let the right people notice. What you need is a genuinely interested audience. 

Zizka's Camera Journey

Zizka started shooting professionally with Canon’s 5D series, upgrading along the way with each new iteration of the 5D line. He explained that although every new 5D was a great camera, it was always lacking something. Even if it was just a small inconvenience, it was something. For example, Zizka pointed out that the 5D Mark III didn’t have an internal intervalometer. Which just meant more weight when he has to carry a third party trigger and timer.

As with the other adventure photographers I’ve talked to, Zizka is always looking for a way to shed weight. Zizka admits, between the 5D and R5, there isn’t a huge difference at first blush, but, when you’re covering a lot of miles, every little ounce plays a part in your mood.

Hiking far and wide with the R5. Paul Zizka.

Having tried out the R during the last Canon product upgrade, Zizka was pleased with the weight of the mirrorless, but the 5D Mark IV still had certain advantages. For example, he was much more confident in the low light capabilities of the 5D compared to the older mirrorless.

Until now, going out on multi-day adventures meant that he had to seriously consider his options. He had to make a choice between what camera to haul over mountain and dell. Now, looking at the R5, as Zizka puts it, there is no more mental torture in making the choice. 

With confidence, the R5 can be the tool that I need regardless of the situations that are presented. For me, that’s where the R5 stood out. It’s the camera that has it all.

Low light with the R5. Paul Zizka.

What Zizka Loves About the R5

Wildlife photographers have been gushing about the R5’s autofocus. More specific to Zizka's shooting style, he has been impressed with the R5’s autofocus in low light. He’s found that even with a little moonlight the R5 is spot on.

Part of Zizka’s mission was to determine if there was any loss in quality using the RF adaptor in combination with his existing Canon glass. For those Canon users that have thousands, if not tens of thousands, invested in Canon lenses, this is a genuine concern. Zizka shot several scenes with two different setups, one with the native RF glass and the other with EF glass and the RF adapter. He didn’t find any real world differences when he used the adapter.

Shooting with the R5. Paul Zizka.

Perhaps the biggest games changer for Zizka is the stabilization. Zizka shoots a lot of low light scenes. Point blank, Zizka exclaimed that:

The stabilization blew my mind. I tested it extensively. Situations that typically might need a tripod were great without one.

He went so far as to explain that he’ll have to retrain his brain to stop reaching for a tripod in situations that he may have needed it in the past but no longer does. Again, for Zizka, this means being able to leave some gear at camp instead of climbing with it.

Epic landscapes with the R5. Paul Zizka.

Any Reservations?

Zizka didn’t have any reservations about what he tested, but he did note that he didn’t have time to really work the R5’s batteries over in bitterly cold weather. When he tested the R5, the battery wasn’t a limiting factor at all, but, as he mentioned, it was pleasant outside.

Likewise, because Zizka didn’t have any inclement weather, he’s itching to test the R5 in snow or rain. For him, the 5D was a tank, it could handle almost anything. Given his rough and tumble subjects, he can’t babysit his gear. So, time will tell if the R5 can handle what he throws at his cameras.

For now though, it’s a camera that offers Zizka everything he needs.

Based on what you've read about the R5, are there any features you're excited to try out?

All images used with Paul Zizka's permission.

Mark Dunsmuir's picture

Mark is a Toronto based commercial photographer and world traveller who gave up the glamorous life of big law to take pictures for a living.

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Wait! Am I understanding this correctly? A Canon ambassador says the R5 has it all? That's definitely newsworthy.

It’s one more piece of information that people who aren’t yet invested can use to make a decision.
He also took the time to talk about creative connections and the value of an engaged audience.

Totally agree, someone endorsed by canon saying how canon is great! Nice. Maybe the writer should put it on the headline or on the first paragraph.My 2 cents.

@ Mark. It's one piece of BIASED information that people who aren't yet invested should NOT use to make a decision. As a canon ambassador he uses only Canon and has used only canon surely for many years so he does not know how the competition would have done in a similar situation.

Hi there, Abel - it’s actually in the 3rd sentence.
As for other camera use, investing in a camera system is expensive, how many people do you know that have spent tens of thousands and a few years trying out another system? I drive VW. I might borrow a friends Mini or Mazda, but other than off the cuff experiences, there’s no way a few days can compare to a few years of experience.
Again, I’d allow the evidence and let it go to weight.
As one last point, Zizka is comparing the camera to other Canons, not to other brands.

It's also worth noting that people are often brand bias despite being an ambassador or not. There are flaws to every system but that doesn't stop keyboard warriors from defining their brand and attacking anyone who questions it.

This is no different than Peter McKinnon, another Canon Ambassador and Uber Canon fanboy, going on and on how the R5 has everything (which he has), yet for this price point vs feature set, the R5 is NOTHING special when compared to competing cameras from multiple brands, from either resolution, feature set, or price.

And BTW, a Canon Ambassador (or any brand ambassador for that matter) should NEVER be trusted when giving a “review” of a Canon product, due to conflict of interest.

I understand your point, but, if I was going to buy something and I had a friend who liked the product, I'd ask why. I wouldn't 100% depend on the answer. But I'd consider it.
I'm not sure why this is different
As a judge would say about controversial evidence, I'll take it under consideration, but I will consider the weight to give it as well.

This comment makes no sense.

Would you like to explain how it makes no sense? I compare getting all the info from a friend who constantly uses a product to an ambassador who constantly uses a product.
As for the second part of my comment, I'm for getting all the info I can. I can sort through info to determine what I find credible or not.

Mark: The problem is that operates as a journalistic online magazine, not a sales channel. We go here to find advice and perspectives from skilled, experienced people that isn't being paid or compensated to promote a specific brand.

You would never see a car magazine interview an Audi salesman about how swell the S8 is. Can you imagine the editor defending such an interview with «ok, we know he's with Audi, but hey, why not hear what he has to say?».

Having worked for 20+ years as a journalist myself, this gentleman is not a person I would have given airtime to speak about the brand he's promoting – simply because he is biased, no matter how nice or honest he is, and because an outlet like Fstoppers depends on trust.

Trust is built in millimeters and teared down in meters. Articles like this one tears down the Fstoppers reputation as trustworthy and comes across as mysteriously naive.

That said: It's a well written piece. If I found it on Canon's own pages, I would have had no issues with it.

Reread what you wrote.

Steve, please stop trying to reason with Mark. He obviously is oblivious to what we see clearly.

What shocks me the most this year is how Canon dropped the ball when it comes to reliability, yes I know everyone talks about video, but it also counts for photography.
To produce a mirrorless body that is much bigger and beefier than the A7riv and only get 60% battery life of what that camera can do is really outstanding. It should have been the other way around. I would have expected this camera to at least compete with the A7 iii in terms of battery juice. But so far behind.. It`s like Samuel Elkins said when he went out to do some casual street portraits with the R5 "fantastic camera but the battery life is disappointing". Canon you can do so much better than this so wake the F*** up!

yeah, the "Any Reservations?" section is a joke and should mention how much worse the battery is than a9ii or a7riv.

a Camera That Has It All:
Can be use as heater, iron, water boiler for coffee in the middle of nowhere...
Another day, another happy Canon ambassador talking about how great Canon is.

Please stop giving space for these bs "reviews" masquerading as ads. "Unbiased reviewer" says camera "has it all" yet glosses over some of the possible negatives by saying he did not test them.

"but he did note that he didn’t have time to really work the R5’s batteries over in bitterly cold weather."

From what I've read the r5 battery is not great and not sure how many you need to carry on a shoot. I have Sony a9 and a7riv and carry a total of 8 batteries(3 in camera, 4 spare) and that is for work that does not involve extreme environments.

"because Zizka didn’t have any inclement weather, he’s itching to test the R5 in snow or rain."

yeah, maybe he could've tested these pivotal factors before proclaiming the r5 "has it all".

Surprised he did not say, "I didn't have a problem with overheating and hope to get a chance one day to try the video features if I need to."

It is absolutely insane to think that a tiny RX100VII basically has the same battery life as a "Pro" camera..

Where did that come from? Yin never mentioned the RX line, he stated he runs with an A9 and A7RIV...

"Battery. Rated 220 shots per charge with the finder; 320 with the LCD in the high-performance mode,"
This is from Canon.

Sony RX100 VII is rated for 260 pictures.

For what it's worth... I understand the points that some are making about a Canon Ambassador giving their opinion on a canon camera.... I get it... it can look like they are simply doing their job. That being said, as someone who knows Paul well, I know for a fact that he does not sugar coat things for the purpose of helping a brand. I've seen him end working relationships in order to be true to who he is... that's the kind of person he is. In fact, before this article I've been in conversations with him and he's said all of the same things to me personally about this camera - as a friend who has stayed in his home and played with his children. These forums can be toxic in the way that people can be try to tear others apart for whatever reason, it pains me to see someone I know to be honest and hard working to be basically called a sellout. I just had to give my perspective to hopefully cut through at least some of the doubt that he is not giving his honest opinion. This is by no means meant to spark any further debate or fire anyone up, just something I needed to say. Have a great day everyone!

Thanks Wayne.
As the author I try to stay somewhat out of the fray, trying to only point out the inconsistencies of some of the comments - but, to share what you have is great.
Thank you.

so the canon ambassador has a faceless ambassador claiming canon ambassador "has it all" in the "unbiased" department. the forums are "toxic" because they "tear apart" this "honest" review that glosses over key findings"? Puh-leeze stop. How can a camera that constantly overheats(possibly by malicious design) have it all?

Actually I am an ambassador, but for Sigma. So, I've got no stake in this game. I stand behind my words and invite you to go to if you don't believe I am who I say I am. As I stated, I am a friend only trying to point out what some are not able to see. I wish you a great weekend.

So you are both ambassadors used to playing ball for the big corporation. Great. This kind of effusive ad belongs in a Canigma ad in the back of Nat Geo or other mag. I can't speak of Paul's character as well as his best friend can but this article does not tell the whole truth. Call it what you will but I say it is half-baked at best and disingenuous. I trust people like Dustin Abbott. I don't have to be his best friend. His reviews pass the sniff test.


So that I’m clear, you called my effort disingenuous and when I asked you to confirm or explain, you responded with a sarcastic link?

if you read my comments they are about the "unbiased" opinions from a canon amb. the "Any Reservations?" aka cons section completely ignores any overheating issues even at 4khq, weather reliability, and battery (which is quite low 320/220 lcd/evf) so yeah, saying "it has it all" is disingenous. having to wedge a grain of rice in the battery door sensor so you can pull out the battery tor reset the 8k limit is not a camera i want to buy nor one i woud consider as one that "has it all"

I think maybe you read the article a little too quickly. Zizka tried out the R5 for a few days.
He didn't have time to try out everything in every situation. I didn't mention video at all.
It's not a review so much as a series of experiences with a test model.

My goodness... this is the second article I've read on this forum and the second time I've decided to just walk away in frustration. I'll peacefully leave now and leave you to your opinion... now that you're calling me a sell out as well. I'm just like any other photographer out there trying to make a living right now in a difficult time. The fact that I'm sponsored by a lens company means nothing... except that they give me lenses and I talk about them if I like them and simply don't if I'm not impressed. I am not obligated to say anything I don't mean and would not use the lenses myself if I didn't like them.

I'm puzzled by people who are being unkind to others online... just to prove a point that is only their opinion. I think there are bigger problems in the world and we should simply enjoy articles like this and stop reading if we do not. I've now wasted about 20 minutes reading and replying to your comments after simply standing up for a friend, another photographer out there just trying to make a living. I should have enjoyed those 20 minutes with my children instead.

Coming back to this comment... "So you are both ambassadors used to playing ball for the big corporation."... well... that's simply not accurate. I'm playing ball for myself and my children. I'm no one's puppet and I resent the insinuation. These are the kind of comments that seem harmless as one types them out, but affect real people on the other end. HUMANS are on the other end of that keyboard and some are struggling right now. Please find it in yourself to be more considerate and keep hurtful judgements of character to yourself. I wish you well, and hope you'll consider my words.

I grew up poor and didn't have many opportunities until I discovered photography. Somehow I managed to make money and raise family for 2 decades without having to toot a big corporation's horn. I am not a millionaire but I have enjoyed almost every day of my career and did not have to compromise my integrity to feed my family. For that I thank the gods of photography.

I"m happy to hear that, that's great!

Terrific photographer. But I agree that an Ambassador for the brand saying how great the brand cam is makes me stop reading right there. Not that you didn't do a great job with your article. It's just that everything on the web is a commercial today. Especially (and this is off-point) Youtube photographers.

Who cares? He's an ambassador. What did you expect?

Why not write an article about a reviewer who is objective?

Unlikely to ever exist. ;)

I think Steve meant objective as in «independent of the brand's marketing operations». Shouldn't be too hard to find?

Mark's being a tool. Fstoppers should send Dustin Abbott an r5 just to make up for this "review".

I'd appreciate keeping it somewhat professional.
There is no such thing as unbiased.
I explained where the bias is in this article from the beginning.

Saying there is "no such things as unbiased" is one thing....using this ridiculous argument when you are posting a "review" based on a Canon ambassador's opinions is even more ludicrous and makes me wonder what criteria fstoppers uses to vet their "writers". there are plenty of people who do very in-depth reviews than this informercial. dustin abbott is one of those people you might want to look up.

It's amazing how people can complain. I'm just waiting for someone to mention an iPhone gets better battery life.

Actually, the battery in my Canon AE-1 gets way more shots than any of the cameras mentioned in the forum so far! ;)

Greetings to you Mark & all those who have being part of the responses. Quite interesting to see the intensity of it all. I signed up just to see what this site was about. I stumbled onto it whilst looking for info on the new Canon 100-500. I'm not a professional photographer, just one of those many amateurs who loves the craft. Perhaps I could get you to change the theme of discussion a bit? I have two R bodies & a couple of new lenses for them. Have the 70-200. But thinking of getting the 100-500 .. and perhaps the 1.4 teleconverter. But was also thinking of stepping out of the Canon zone & getting the higher end Olympus body with the 75-300 lens. What I really like to use these telephoto lenses is bird photography. Anyone wish to throw some thoughts at me?

And if I stay with Canon & their new lens, is the new R5 really going to make a difference vs the R?

Good question Mickey - I haven't used an Olympus in at least 2-3 decades. I wouldn't be much help. Those that I've spoken to about the 100-500 speak highly. I've never used it. I've rented long primes for certain travels, but owning them is out of my budget.

Anyone with comparative experience for Mickey?

I politely suggest that in the future FStoppers not engage people to review gear for which they are paid to sponsor. In medicine we are VERY skeptical of articles in medical journals written by authors who are paid to represent specific drugs/devices. Bias is very real.
By chance I happen to know and have shot with 4 Canon Explorers of Light and 2 Nikon Ambassadors and they are all really great people who I cherish as friends. I do realize that all 6 of these photographers have a to promote their gear at every turn which is fine but I don't make my purchases based on their comments. It's all good.
In the meantime I do hope FStoppers and all of the authors keep up the good work and let's all stay healthy!

but the Sigma ambassador vouched for him he must be trustworthy reviewer..... i trust my Toyota car dealer to pretty much say the same: only the good things and not a peep about any pesky defective electronic control units or faulty Takata airbags. only the good...

The sky's the limit for a camera that has it all and more without overheating like a Ford engine. I've know Gene for 43 years btw and I can vouch he is unbiased, too. "I've never seen anything like it. I can't wait for people to see it." Truer words were never spoken. Buy now with unbiased affiliate link.

I don't know this photographer but a friend of 39 years who is an aspiring Canbassador claims the photographer is biased and trying to ruin the reputation of a camera that "has it all"

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